The Province of Newfoundland’s ferry system is grappling with a glitch this summer and many users and others are paying a price. Motels and bed & breakfasts are sitting empty when people find it impossible to travel on the terms they intended to.
Merchants are losing money when haulers can’t get them their goods, and the regular users of such services have missed out on everything from vacations to medical support. Worse yet, families have been robbed of the right to respectfully bury their beloved and—except for grieving relatives—everybody involved in this denial of basic human dignity should’ve known better.
Given the important role that boats have played in Newfoundland over hundreds of years, I arrived on this island believing that politicians would have a good grip on this Province’s ferry needs—that schedules would be in place to facilitate the efficient movement of freight, family, and friends. And that there would be seamless backup plans and various vessels in place to accommodate everyone’s needs when things went wrong, as any system dependent on the internal combustion engine is guaranteed to occasionally do.
I imagined that Newfoundland could surely manage their fifteen ferry routes much like Ontario does its seven million cars or Alberta its 175 billion barrels of oil.
I was wrong.
I believe this failure to treat people properly starts at the top and trickles down. It’s no surprise that many politicians don’t value the most visible customers of ferry transportation services—rural Newfoundlanders.
Government wants everyone to live alongside the TransCanada Highway because such urbanization would make life easier for—you guessed it—government. Plus, to make decisions on something as important as people’s ferry needs requires long-term planning (boats aren’t built overnight)—something that governments selfishly focused on four-year terms find distasteful because thinking beyond four years might put the personal power of the politicians and the prevailing supremacy of their party, at risk.
And few politicians want to do that. No sir. Few Ministers and MHAs will ever put the good of the people they represent ahead of their own selfish wants and needs.
So how is government compensating for this summer’s failure to provide efficient ferry service?
They’re flying folks back and forth by helicopter. I wonder how the uninformed few who are already so embarrassingly angry about subsidized ferry use feel about that costly plan. I hope that that typically ignorant group knows how excited I am to be anticipating my first ride in a whirlybird this coming Tuesday. I’ll be travelling from a community where this type of publicly-funded transportation is reserved for routine visits from doctors, high ranking hydro workers, and federal politicians—not for fellers from away who, for fifteen short minutes, will now know how it feels to be a big shot.
I’m planning to travel to urban Newfoundland but if something deathly happens to me in the meantime I have a request: don’t let so-called leadership handle my remains after I’ve passed on. Don’t allow any politicians, police, funeral directors, or pilots to put me in a body bag and prop me up in a passenger seat—my family and my corpse deserve much more dignity than that. My grieving loved ones, understandably, may not be making the best decisions at the time, but all the authorities involved should be expected to know what’s right. Yet, just in case they don’t make respectful choices, keep an eye on me. Please.